Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking is the answer to all your travel problems. It’s an exciting method to convert bonus and sign-up incentives into airline miles, that can then be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your ideal destinations. With a little creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of swapping credit card sign-up bonus and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Some credit cards also let you redeem miles towards hotel stays or car rental discounts.
How Does it Work?
The key to successful travel hacking is to take advantage of the credit card sign-up bonus and establishing frequent flyer miles on a select group of airlines. When it comes time to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay to take a more costly flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts to find out which airline will give you the best price. It all boils down to the number of points or miles in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is to open an account with a sign-up bonus. There are many great credit cards with many advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, spending habits and what features are essential to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are perfect to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit card, you’ll have to meet the spending limit for minimum expenditure in order to qualify for the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make sure to check for the details. Then it’s all about building up miles, and using them to plan your dream vacation!
Ready to jet-set with your ideas?
Once you’ve accumulated your points balance, it’s time to cash them in for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the providers I have experience with:
Getaway with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase cards, you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Within it, you’ll have access to almost every airline. You can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to book your trip. You can book your flight entirely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes, even if you don’t be able to accumulate enough points in order to pay for full cost, you still can book flights using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using the credit card of your choice.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for flights? Did you realize that when booking directly through United, you have the option of paying with either points or dollars? Be careful that if you do not have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars on the same flight. No worries though, if you’re a few points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. Plus, their booking process is like United’s that allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, but not both. The difference is that JetBlue is unique in that they offer a feature that lets you join your points with your family members and earn points twice as quickly. Make sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me or my travel companion Becca I’m sure you’re pretty frugal and it can be daunting to try to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried because we’ve been there and we’re here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is a huge one! If you’re able to pay your rent using credit card, then do it! Be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3 percent. It might be worth it over the long term in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another way to reach the spending limit is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills due, ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they can reimburse you.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you have any loans, consider paying them off with your credit card. Make sure to pay the credit card balance in full , so that you don’t end up with more debt.
Ask family for help
Discuss your family with them and see if they have any major expenses in the near future that you can help pay for. Be sure to be sure that you’re able to trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, consider buying all your gifts using the credit card you have. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be ready to give gifts. Just make sure you’re not paying more than you planning to.
There are plenty of ways to make the most of the travel credit card. accumulate miles or points that you can spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of the travel credit card for booking your flight, hotel or rental car, as well as any other travel-related expenses. Not only will you achieve the required amount to qualify for a credit card, however, you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the expenditures.
Make use of your credit card to pay for everyday costs
Another method to reach the minimum spending requirement in order to accumulate points utilising your credit cards for daily expenditures. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay off the balance each month in full so you don’t pay interest.
Benefit from bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide bonus points or miles on certain kinds of purchases, including dining or travel. Make sure you review your credit card’s rewards program and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a credit card, consider transferring that balance onto a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will let you pay off your debts without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
If you’ve amassed a large amount of miles or points, be sure to use the points or miles wisely. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the value of different redemption options. For instance, using points to book a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater value than using them to purchase an gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will let you get a wider selection of options and greater flexibility when you want to redeem your rewards. For example, you may be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or Hotel rewards programme. This can give an access greater variety of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
In addition, you should determine the card’s benefits. certain benefits that will save you money on travel-related expenses. A lot of credit cards provide travel insurance, rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that are extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
Finally, when you’re traveling with a companion each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to track the rewards you earn separately.
The key to reaping the maximum benefits from your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and ensure that you’re making use of this program in the most effective way possible. Through all of the strategies I’ve outlined, you’ll be able to earn rewards fast, exchange them for travel experiences that are worth it and benefit from a wide variety of travel benefits.